EDITOR'S NOTE:Texans fan Alan J. Burge will continue to write a "Voice of the Fan" column throughout the 2005 season. His latest installment is below. Alan's views do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization.
This was a little bit like Christmas in April, wasn't it?
Finally, we have something to chew on after months of speculating over mock drafts and whether the Texans did enough in free agency. Prior to the release of the NFL schedule on Wednesday, Texans fans already knew the home and away opponents for the 2005 season but there was still an important element missing. We didn't know when, or in what order, or at what time, or the extent of national exposure, if any.
Texans fans (and football players and coaches): Planning for the year may now commence.
The release of the 2005 schedule helps create an identity for the season. Remember last year when we saw that the Texans would be visiting Chicago in mid-December? That one lived up to its frigid expectations with the Texans and Bears playing in below-zero wind chill. There's nothing like that on the schedule this year and ironically, the lone "cold weather game" this season could be in Nashville on Dec. 11.
Then who can forget when we saw San Diego and Detroit as the first two opponents on last season's schedule and everyone started doing the happy dance. Not smart.
The big picture items on the schedule this year are clear:
- Two prime time games for the first time ever
- A bye week that's just a wee bit early
- A very unusual pattern of two games at home followed by two games on the road, etc., starting on Week 7 and continuing through Week 16.
- A game on Christmas Eve against Jacksonville (does that have Battle Red written all over it or what?) and a game on New Year's Day at San Francisco (can you say Road Trip?)
- First time ever games against the NFC West which means that thanks to the new NFL scheduling formula, after the 49ers game the Texans will have played every team in the NFL at least once.
Digging in a little deeper we find:
Week 1 – at Buffalo. This could very well be Quarterback J.P. Losman's first start as a pro. It may be better to catch him earlier rather than later.
Week 2 – at Reliant for the home opener. For the love of football gods everywhere, leave the roof open and bake the Steelers in their black jerseys.
Week 3 – Hopefully we will be talking about our 1-1 or 2-0 team at this point.
Week 4 – at the Bengals. Coach Lewis has turned things around in Cincy and this will not be an easy game. The Bengals lead the all time series against the Texans 2-0.
Week 5 – at Reliant for the Titans. Can the Texans make it three in a row against Bud's bunch? I think so. Steve McNair is returning for another season and Norm Chow has raised expectations but the Titans will continue to struggle this season.
Week 6 – at Seattle will be a long tough roadie at Qwest Field. I can handle Starbucks and Nirvana but Qwest sounds a little too much like a 70's breakfast cereal to me. Seeing Jamie Sharper in the solid seaweed will be strange.
Week 7 – at Reliant against Indy. Will the seventh time be a charm? This sure is getting old.
Week 8 – at Reliant against the Browns. Hopefully this result will be much better than Week 17 last year. That's an ugly memory that every Texans fan wants to erase in a big way.
Week 9 – at Jacksonville. On paper, the Jags should be improved again, but the Texans get inside these guys' heads better than anyone.
Week 10 – at Indy. Maybe the new turf in the RCA Dome will slow down Dwight Freeney. Not.
Week 11 – at Reliant for ESPN Sunday Night Prime Time against the Chiefs. This is a tailgater's paradise game and hopefully the Texans can do a little bit better than they did last year against the Packers. In two previous meetings between these teams, the visitors won each time.
Week 12 – at Reliant against the Rams. Orlando Pace can see first hand what he's missing. This game could be a lot like the Vikings game last year. Here's a small factoid: When was the last time the Rams visited Houston? Answer: Week 4 of the totally bizarre 1993 Oilers season when Buddy Ryan and Kevin Gilbride shared a sideline at the Dome and the Rams were still in Los Angeles.
Week 13 - at Baltimore. This is a tough late-season roadie. Ray Lewis can still bring the hurt but will the Ravens ever find an offense under offensive genius Brian Billick? The only other meeting between the Texans and Ravens was in 2002 when Avion Black became the only Texans player ever to return a punt for a touchdown.
Week 14 – at Tennessee. I don't want to fall into the San Diego-Detroit prediction trap from last year but this could be the beginning of a four game win streak to close out the season.
Week 15 – at Reliant against the Cardinals. I wonder how many Neil Lomax jerseys we'll see in the crowd for this one? The Cards last visit to Houston was in 1994.
Week 16 – at Reliant against the Jaguars. Again, if there was any game that had Battle Red written all over it, it's this one. There could be AFC playoff implications in this one.
Week 17 – are you going to San Francisco? If the Niners stay true to recent form, the Texans might get their first win in a regular season finale.
You can email the "Voice of the Fan" at: firstname.lastname@example.org